Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Hometown Rivalries Debate the Birthplace of the U.S. Navy

Written on: October 20, 2010 | 0 Comments

Last Wednesday, I celebrated the 235th birthday of the U.S. Navy at the USS Constitution Museum at the Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston. It was a fun event full of hometown pride and spirited debate. I brought with me Senior Archivist Trevor Plante and original records from the National Archives to discuss the Revolutionary origins of the U.S. Navy. The crowd, mostly from Beverly and Marblehead, Massachusetts, had a great time discussing and debating their hometown claims to being the “birthplace” of the U.S. Navy.

On October 13, 1775, the Continental Congress authorized the outfitting of two ships for “intercepting such transports as may be laden with warlike stores and other supplies for our enemies, and for such other purposes as the Congress shall direct.” This date marks the first Congressional action and, therefore, is celebrated as the “birthday” of the U.S. Navy.

act-of-oct-13-1775Although the birth date is clear, there is still much debate and hometown rivalry surrounding the “birthplace” of the U.S. Navy. The claims are numerous: Philadelphia, where the Continental Congress passed the Act of October 13, 1775; Machias, Maine, where two small ships armed with woodsmen capture the British schooner Margaretta in June 1775; Providence, Rhode Island, because their delegates to the Continental Congress were the first to propose a resolution to build and equip an American fleet in October 1775; and … [ Read all ]

Coming Soon: Federal Register 2.0

Written on: July 22, 2010 | 2 Comments

On July 26, we will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Federal Register Act by launching Federal Register 2.0.  In a special event in the Rotunda of the National Archives, I will be joined by the Public Printer of the United States and distinguished guests from regulatory agencies and the open government community to introduce the web 2.0 version of the daily Federal Register.

What is the Federal Register?

The Federal Register is the legal newspaper of the U.S. government and contains rules, proposed rules, and public notices of federal agencies, as well Presidential documents. It’s an important, crucial part of our democracy. The Office of the Federal Register is a component of the National Archives and Records Administration.

Have you ever tried to find something in the Federal Register?

As you might expect, the Federal Register is dense and difficult to read whether in print or online as a PDF.  It’s also difficult to find what you’re looking for.

Federal Register 2.0 takes into consideration the 21st century user and turns the Federal Register website into a daily web newspaper. The clear layout will have tools to help users find what they need, comment on proposed rules, and share material relevant to their interests. In addition to greatly improved navigation and search tools, the site will highlight the most popular and newsworthy documents and … [ Read all ]

Redefining Transparency in a Digital Age

Written on: May 6, 2010 | 9 Comments

If you’re reading this, the following statistic from a recent Pew Internet report applies to you: 

Fully 82% of internet users (representing 61% of all American adults) looked for information or completed a transaction on a government website in the previous twelve months.

It probably doesn’t surprise you that increasingly Americans are relying on the internet for access to government information.  More and more this is taking the form of social media tools like blogs, social networking sites, and services like Twitter or text messaging.  While the social nature of this type of engagement makes the tone more informal, it does not indicate that the engagement is trivial.

In the same Pew Internet report, three-quarters (79%) agree with the statement that having the ability to follow and communicate online with government using social media tools “helps people be more informed about what the government is doing,” while 74% agree that it “makes government agencies and officials more accessible.”

In today’s digital age, the National Archives and Records Administration must fulfill its mission not only in the research rooms, regional archives, and presidential libraries, but also in cyberspace.  Through our website and creative use of social media tools, we can provide access to the records that document the actions of our government.  This enables greater transparency, a crucial pillar of open government.

What does it mean … [ Read all ]

The Future is in the Palm of our Hands

Written on: April 27, 2010 | 28 Comments

One of my favorite strategic planning quotes is from Wayne Gretzky.  He said, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”  A recent Morgan Stanley report on Internet trends, gives us a lot of data on where the puck will be and the direction in which we should be skating: mobile.

Mobile will be bigger than

desktop Internet in five years.

The Morgan Stanley report challenges us to look at statistics and where the future is headed.

  • Mobile Internet use is being adopted by users much faster than the adoption of desktop Internet.
  • The number of mobile users will likely surpass desktop Internet users in 2013.
  • Technology cycles tend to last ten years, and we’re about two years into a mobile Internet cycle.
  • The expectation is now 24 x 7 access to everything from the palm of your hand.

Since my days at MIT, I’ve been an avid reader of Technology Review.  One of their ten emerging technologies for 2010 is mobile 3-D.  Seemingly futuristic technology is now closer than ever to being in the palm of your hand.

What do these trends mean for the National Archives and Records Administration?

The cornerstone of the work we do every day is the belief that citizens have the right to see, examine, and learn from the records that … [ Read all ]